Friday, June 25, 2010

Straco Express - A closer look

Here's a little bit more on this toy train I've been nattering on the last two posts.

The Straco Express was an HO-scale electric train imported by the FJ Strauss Company around 1960. The set consisted of a locomotive, a boxcar, a gondola car, and a caboose. It also included an oval of sectional track, three railroad signs, and a battery-operated transformer.

Below are photos of each of the cars (click on each image to enlarge), and a special bonus video!

The locomotive is the most detailed component, and -- as it's all embossed metal -- the most complex to assemble. It mostly resembles an EMD SW-1, a very popular switch engine (especially among toy train makers) at the time.

The boxcar is also embossed metal and shares the same frame as the gondola car. I'm not sure the U.S. Mail ever had boxcars painted red, white, and blue -- but Lionel did. Their 6428 U.S. Post Office boxcar was offered in the early and middle 1960's.

The gondola car shared the same frame as the box car. It had a lithographed floor -- an impressive amount of detail for such an inexpensive item. The edges of the body are curled in, giving the sides added strength. And although very hard to see the white letters against the pale yellow sides, the gondola is marked N.Y.C. (New York Central)

To me, it looks like the creative team ran out of gas when they got to the caboose. The locomotive and freight cars are fairly well proportioned, but the caboose is a little small. Nevertheless, it still has an impressive amount of detail, particularly the railings on the ends of the car.

Although I don't have a complete circle of track, I did have enough to do a test run. The battery-powered transformer's control isn't very subtle -- it's basically on or off. Here's the Straco Express, barreling down the track across the wasteland of my desk. All aboard!

 - Ralph

BTW - If anyone has an extra curved section of track from an FJ Strauss, MRK, or Americo tin toy train set, let me know!



  1. Interesting stuff! I enjoy continuing to read these posts.

  2. Anonymous3:39 PM

    I was cleaning out the basement and came across the very same Train Set. It's complete and in perfect condition. We set it up and was amazed at how good it ran.

  3. Debbie:

    It's a simple little train, but you're right. It just runs, and runs well. I did eventually find enough track to complete the circle. You can see it in action here.